Two dozen Bihar MLAs face income tax action for up to 200% rise in assets
The MLAs, already served notices by the income tax authorities, will have to pay a penalty up to 300 % on their unexplained wealth, based on the assessment done by the department in the past few months.india Updated: Oct 11, 2017 19:28 IST
Over two dozen sitting and former members of the Bihar legislative assembly (MLAs), cutting across party lines, have been nailed by the Income Tax department, following investigations into the sudden rise in their wealth, by up to 200%, between 2010 and 2015 assembly polls.
The Election Commission too is apprised of the matter, with the IT authorities referring their findings to it.
The MLAs, already served notices by the income tax authorities, will have to pay a penalty up to 300 % on their unexplained wealth, based on the assessment done by the department in the past few months.
The sitting MLAs on the list may even lose their membership of the house, in case the Election Commission initiates action against them for giving false affidavits about their assets while filing their nomination papers for the assembly polls.
“We had scanned the assets declared in the election affidavits filed by all 243 Bihar MLAs, of which the affidavits of 50 MLAs aroused our suspicion. Of these, around 25 MLAs showed a rise in income by 200% in the period between 2010 to 2015 assembly polls, but could not explain the rise when questioned.
Some of these MLAs have also undervalued their income by making false claims in their affidavits,” said a senior IT officer, engaged in the probe.
The income tax department has the mandate to check the accounts of MLAs in between two elections, just to ascertain their assets, as declared in the affidavits, are adequately explained. The list of MLAs showing an abnormal rise in income includes those from the RJD, BJP and the JD (U).
The MLAs served notices include Raj Ballabh Prasad, RJD MLA from Nawada, Prema Choudhary, RJD MLA from Patepur, Vijay Kumar Shukla, former JD (U) MLA from Lalganj, Arun Kumar, RJD MLA from Sandesh and Poornima Yadav, Congress MLA from Govindpur.
Also on the list are Rana Randhir, minister and BJP MLA from Madhuban, Sharfuddin, JD(U) MLA from Sheohar, Shamim Ahmed, RJD MLA from Narkatia, Sri Narayan Yadav, former minister and RJD MLA from Sahebpur Kamal, Vijay Kumar Sinha, minister and BJP MLA from Lakhisarai, Neeraj Kumar Singh, BJP MLA from Chatapur and Narendra Kumar Neeraj , JD(U) MLA from Gopalpur.
There are still others who are being investigated.
Raj Ballabh is a heavy weight RJD MLA is lodged in jail for allegedly raping a minor. He also faces charges of extortion and assault.
Officials told HT, one MLA had showed his total assets to be worth Rs 20 lakh in the election affidavit but investigations revealed he had assets worth more than Rs 50 lakh, including cash. He is now charged with undervaluing his assets and income.
There were also instances of MLAs not showing their capital gains from sale of land or property in their election affidavit.
“We have sent all such cases to their respective assessing officers for imposition of penalty and further action,” said a senior IT officer, wishing not to be quoted. “Our findings have been referred to the election commission for further action at their level, as well”, the officer added.
Reached for comments, Bihar chief electoral officer, Ajay V Nayak said: “I have not seen the report sent by the income tax authorities, as yet”.
Asked whether the EC could take action on the report, Nayak said the poll panel did not take suo moto cognizance of any report following the expiry of the 45 day period after any polls for receiving complaints, regarding poll malpractice.
“If anyone files a complaint and the matter goes to court, the EC will take a call,” he said.